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How do you tell the difference.....


......between horsehide and other leather? Any tips on identifying different types of leather used in manufacturing flight jackets would be very useful.




Well-Known Member
This question has caused untold controversy on jacket forums for many years. It's usually not too hard to recognise goatskin because of its distinctive pebbled grain, but telling horse from steer is a different animal entirely. Those who have handled large quantities of jackets will tell you they can tell the difference, but the only sure-fire way of knowing is DNA testing. This is how it has now become recognised that steer was definitely used on wartime contracts, after Gary Eastman confirmed this with DNA tests prior to publishing his book. Before that it was felt that it was likely, but no proof was ever made public. I can usually tell horsehide, it tends to be thinner, smoother and more supple, but sometimes it can be thicker and grainier just like steer. There was untold blood shed over this subject years ago, especially around the ELC 'hide of default' scandal, when people bought Eastman Roughwear 1401's thinking they were horse when they may have been steer.

Officer Dibley

Well-Known Member
Based on some DD and Sefton which are the only steer i know i’ve handled, steer seems to be softer. But that may be down to the tanning process.
The DD were a very different surface to Sefton. And the Sefton have aged fantastically based on some friends jackets that are over 20 years old. The DD seemed to lose their surface finish.
It would be interesting to see what ELC could do with steer.
I personally think the best thing you can do to make a jacket look like a period one regardless of hide is to wear the shit out of it for years and years. Smithy has it right.


Well-Known Member
I personally think the best thing you can do to make a jacket look like a period one regardless of hide is to wear the shit out of it for years and years. Smithy has it right.
Thanks Dave ;-)

It's actually the only thing that will make any jacket look better. Everybody here oohs and aahs in the photo threads from the war of guys in their flight jackets. They look that way because they wore it all the time and they didn't lay it out neatly on the floor when it wasn't being used or worried that it might get a bit of drizzle on it from the barracks to the mess. It got worn in all weather, it got chucked in a corner, thrown over the back of a chair for a poker game, dozed in, stepped on, had coffee and beer spilt on it, and then got used in an airplane doing what it was designed to do.

I reckon if anyone really wants to get that kind of wear on a repro jacket then get two (maximun, anymore and they won't get enough use. Sure have as many of those collectable kind of jackets as you want in the wardrobe and collection and that kind of thing but have only two proper wearers) A-2s that you like and wear the utter shit out of them. Do manual labour in them, play baseball, football, rugby with your kid in them, wear them in every kind of weather, Don't worry about "what could happen if I wear my jacket doing that", those guys in WWII didn't worry about that kind of crap so why should you.

If you do that, you'll be rewarded not only with a jacket that looks a darn sight more like something that a flyboy in WWII wore but you will also have worn it with exactly the same kind of attitude and spirit those guys wore theirs.